MARTA and Partners are Raising the Collective Value of our Communities
The Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts (AACIDs), an organization committed to creating an economically strong, safe, attractive and vibrant community surrounded by the world’s busiest and most efficient passenger airport, is proud to partner with acclaimed regional and national organizations in an effort to revolutionize transit in South Atlanta.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is leading an effort to potentially bring ground-breaking transportation to Aerotropolis Atlanta. MARTA is partnering with the Atlanta-based Center for Transportation and Environment (CTE), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Hartsfield-Jackson), the AACIDs, New Flyer of America, Inc. (New Flyer), Georgia Power, and others on a US Department of Transportation Automated Driving System (ADS) Demonstration Grants proposal. If awarded, this project would deploy automated 40-foot battery-electric heavy-duty transit buses on public roads in Aerotropolis Atlanta, providing service to employees, travelers, and residents between MARTA’s College Park Station and the Airport’s International Terminal.
MARTA and its partners are taking a bold step forward for transit automation and electrification globally, as no automated transit buses have deployed on public roads to date. The MARTA-led team believes ADS technology can complement the skills of well-trained human operators to improve road safety, increase energy efficiency, and boost labor retention by reducing driver stress. The buses, which produce no tailpipe emissions, would charge overnight in a depot near the demonstration site, with infrastructure installation and integration provided by Georgia Power.
The project exemplifies the Atlanta region’s role as a global leader in transportation and intermodal logistics, with the planned route serving the world’s busiest and most efficient airport and the corporate headquarters of one of the world’s largest airlines, Delta Air Lines. It would represent the first automated airport passenger transportation on public roads anywhere in the world. “The service would be open to employees and passengers travelling to and from the airport, and to local commuters and residents providing a vital link to employment, housing and services,” said John Selden, General Manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “It is important for the Airport to be able to better service visitors and employees by offering additional travel options.” said Selden in the airport’s letter of support to MARTA for the ADS grant application.
The Aerotropolis Atlanta covers portions of south Fulton and north Clayton Counties surrounding Hartsfield-Jackson, and is a major focus area for development, transportation, public safety, workforce development, and education initiatives. The AACIDs recently completed Aerotropolis Atlanta Transit Feasibility Study which identified a variety of service gaps across the Aerotropolis Atlanta area. The study recommends supplementing existing services, create new service where development is occurring, and focus on first- and last-mile connectivity. This project was identified as a priority transit route for the area. While the study did not identify a specific technology, it did include ADS as a potential solution for the service. Kirsten Mote, Program Director of the AACIDs stated, “this is an exciting opportunity to fast track one of our identified transit projects to demonstrate the safety and operations of ADS in Aerotropolis Atlanta. This service will inform the Aerotropolis Atlanta area on how to implement long-term service and how to best serve the surrounding communities.”
The MARTA team consists of previously mentioned CTE, a non-profit engineering and planning firm that specializes in helping communities deploy advanced transportation technologies, AACIDs, Georgia Power and New Flyer, which is North America’s largest bus manufacturer. “MARTA is excited to lead this collaborative effort”, said Jeff Parker, MARTA’s General Manager and CEO. “We look forward to this demonstration and the valuable insight it will provide as we plan for the region’s future transit network”.
The team coordinated with local and regional leaders support of the project, including the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (The ATL), Georgia Department of Transportation, the Atlanta Regional Commission, Clayton and Fulton Counties, the Cities of College Park, East Point and Hapeville, and The Airport Area Chamber. The Atlanta City Council also passed a resolution supporting the grant application on March 18, 2019. “This is a collaboration among multiple state, regional and local entities and could not have been accomplished without their support and leadership to bring the vision of the Aerotropolis to the forefront” stated by AACIDs Executive Director, Gerald McDowell. Furthermore, Christopher Tomlinson, Interim Executive Director, The ATL, said “The Aerotropolis CIDs and MARTA’s ADS Demonstration discretionary grant application provides the Atlanta region with an opportunity to demonstrate the value of emerging technologies. This application highlights the importance of collaboration and cooperation between multiple partners in providing additional service to an area of high demand and is consistent with the overarching objectives of The ATL.”